By: Book Reviewers
Book reviews from the Spring 2011 issue of
THE NEW SOCIAL WORKER
Mental Health Treatment for Children and Adolescents, by Jacqueline Corcoran, Oxford University Press, New York, 2011, 245 pages, $39.95.
Jacqueline Corcoran discusses the current state of research knowledge when it comes to treating attention deficit hyperactivity, anxiety, post-traumatic stress, depression, eating, oppositional defiant, and conduct disorders in children and adolescents in her book, Mental Health Treatment for Children and Adolescents. She presents data from existing research studies to show which treatments have been found to be effective, less effective, or not effective at all when it comes to treating these disorders and identifies the evidence-based treatments that will work in treating a particular disorder. Using the risk and resilience framework that was developed after studying how at-risk youth cope and adapt amidst significant life stressors in her analysis of existing data, Corcoran identifies the risk and protective factors that enable these youth to overcome the debilitating effects of their disorders and how available treatments have made a difference in their recovery.
Use of stimulants, mood stabilizers, agonist, as well as anti-psychotic medications in children with oppositional defiant and conduct disorders were found to have varying degrees of effectiveness in reducing aggression when used alone or in combination. Unfortunately, there are limitations and serious consequences that come with their use. The same arguments exist for the use of medications in the treatment of anxiety, depression, and eating disorders. Corcoran further reports that cognitive behavioral therapy has been the most researched child-focused intervention for youth disruptive behaviors and other problems, but other psychotherapy techniques have also been used and found effective.
The eating disorders anorexia nervosa and bulimia in children and adolescents have been poorly studied, according to Corcoran. Studies have been conducted on the treatment of these disorders in adults, but even when children were involved in the same research, the results did not specifically identify how the treatment affected them.
Ms. Corcoran recognizes there are challenges in the implementation of evidence-based treatments both on the individual and organizational levels. She argues that not all mental health providers or agencies and organizations are trained in evidence-based treatments, and not all can afford to obtain the needed training even when they want to. Those children and families living in rural communities are also most affected by the lack of providers and agencies trained in evidence-based treatments. The fact that there remain significant disagreements among professionals on what is the evidence-based treatment for a specific disorder only adds to the problem.
Corcoran’s book is very valuable to social workers, students, and educators involved in the treatment of children and adolescents with mental health problems. First, social workers will be guided in their choice of what intervention to use for better results. Second, it will help social work educators design educational programs with evidence-based treatment as the focus in training new social workers. Third, social work students will be up to date and better prepared to implement treatment modalities that have been shown effective once employed. It is equally valuable to clients, because by knowing evidence-based treatment, they can opt for the one that is more promising in terms of outcome.
Reviewed by Teresa Graney, MSW, LCSW, Emergency Room Social Worker, Veterans Administration.
The Dynamics of Family Policy: Analysis and Advocacy, by Alice K. Butterfield, Cynthia J. Rocha, and William H. Butterfield, Lyceum Books, Inc., Chicago, 2010, 445 pages, $59.95 paperback.
The authors, Alice Butterfield (University of Illinois at Chicago), Cynthia Rocha (University of Tennessee), and William Butterfield (Washington University), have collaborated on a noble experiment to produce a social welfare policy textbook that focuses on families. Intended as an introduction to issues related to family policy and as an impetus for family-related policy analysis and advocacy, this first edition is a good start in that direction.
The textbook is divided into two sections of unequal quality and value. The first three chapters contain an introduction to the nine themes the authors believe emerged from the literature on family policy, their framework for Family Impact Analysis, and an excellent introduction to advocacy for policy practice. The last is particularly well written for student consumption. In my opinion, these chapters represent the best that this text has to offer the reader, because they are the least likely to suffer from the fast pace of change currently underway during President Obama’s first term.
The ten remaining chapters address specific aspects of social welfare policy, with two chapters on poverty (measurement and explanatory theories) and one each on public assistance, labor policy, health care, policies related to the care and custody of children, family violence, marriage, caregiving and aging, and a very brief chapter comparing the U.S. social economy with other countries in the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development.
Whereas I am quite sympathetic to the challenges associated with writing a new social welfare policy textbook during a period of rapid change, this text misses many of the recent policy innovations under the Obama administration. The authors do not make mention of the new relative measure of poverty being developed. The chapter on public assistance understates the significance of the expansion of Earned Income Tax Credit under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (2009). The absence of information on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (2010) is an especially egregious limitation of the health care discussion. Accordingly, I do not believe that I could use this textbook without extensive use of additional content material.
I also suggest more use of charts, less reliance on tables, and the addition of discussion questions with each chapter. A table of the excellent Internet resources mentioned in the text would also be helpful. The content could be improved by inclusion of material on how mass incarceration has impaired the marriageability of ethnic minority males and how labor market obstacles have been created by the court imputation of paternal child support liability. Commentary on child care subsidies should emphasize the U-shaped distribution created by wage eligibility and tax deductibility rules. Income disparities should be adjusted for the receipt of public assistance and the escalating employer costs associated with employment benefits.
Appropriately supplemented by more current material, this textbook may be quite useful for social work instructors who wish to emphasize family policy, but I will probably wait until the second edition is available.
Peter A. Kindle, Ph.D., CPA. LMSW, is an assistant professor at the University of South Dakota and can be contacted by e-mail at Peter.Kindle@usd.edu.